“As though all the world were a bad joke and she was the only one around who knew the punchline.”
“I lay in bed and thought about how easy it was to hurt a person. It didn't have to be physical. All you had to do was take a good hard kick at something they cared about.”
“In the basement, with Ruth, I began to learn that anger, hate, fear and loneliness are all one button awaiting the touch of just a single finger to set them blazing toward destruction.”
“The worst is missing them, you know? And knowing they won’t be back again. Just knowing that. Sometimes you forget and it’s as though they’re on vacation or something and you think, gee, I wish they’d call. You miss them. You forget they’re really gone. You forget the past six months even happened. Isn’t that weird? Isn’t that crazy? Then you catch yourself . . . and it’s real again.”
“The dialogue is solo now. I don’t talk. No matter who’s in bed with me I never do. My thoughts slip off into nightmares sometimes but I don’t share them. I have become now what I only began to be then—completely self-protective.”
“She was grinning and she should have been pretty when she grinned. She had good white teeth and a lovely, delicate mouth. But something always went wrong with Denise's smile. There was always something manic in it.”
“In the basement, with Ruth, I began to learn that anger, hate, fear and loneliness are all one button awaiting the touch of just a single finger to set them blazing toward destruction. And I learned that they can taste like winning.”
“You got to tell me the brave captain Why are the wicked so strong? How do the angels get to sleep When the devil leaves the porch light on?” —Tom Waits”
“So here my check. Overdue and overdrawn.
Cash it in hell.”
“Crayfish,” I said. I dumped out a tin of water. “Really?” I nodded. “Big ones?” “Not these. You can find them, though.” “Can I see?” She dropped down off the bank just like a boy would, not sitting first, just putting her left hand to the ground and vaulting the three-foot drop to the first big stone in the line that led zigzag across the water. She studied the line a moment and then crossed to the Rock. I was impressed. She had no hesitation and her balance was perfect. I made room for her. There was suddenly this fine clean smell sitting next to me. Her eyes were green. She looked around. To all of us back then the Rock was something special. It sat smack in the middle of the deepest part of the brook, the water running clear and fast around it.”
“You had room for four kids sitting or six standing up. It had been a pirate ship, Nemo’s Nautilus, and a canoe for the Lenni Lennape among other things. Today the water was maybe three and a half feet deep. She seemed happy to be there, not scared at all. “We call this the Big Rock,” I said. “We used to, I mean. When we were kids.” “I like it,” she said. “Can I see the crayfish? I’m Meg.” “I’m David. Sure.” She peered down into the can. Time went by and we said nothing. She studied them. Then she straightened up again. “Neat.” “I just catch ‘em and look at ’em awhile and then let them go.” “Do they bite?” “The big ones do. They can’t hurt you, though. And the little ones just try to run.” “They look like lobsters.” “You never saw a crayfish before?”
“Don’t think they have them in New York City.” She laughed. I didn’t mind. “We get lobsters, though. They can hurt you.” “Can you keep one? I mean, you can’t keep a lobster like a pet or anything, right?” She laughed again. “No. You eat them.” “You can’t keep a crayfish either. They die. One day or maybe two, tops. I hear people eat them too, though.” “Really?” “Yeah. Some do. In Louisiana or Florida or someplace.” We looked down into the can. “I don’t know,” she said, smiling. “There’s not a whole lot to eat down there.” “Let’s get some big ones.” We lay across the Rock side by side. I took the can and slipped both arms down into the brook. The trick was to turn the stones one at a time, slowly so as not to muddy the water, then have the can there”
“ready for whatever scooted out from under. The water was so deep I had my shortsleeve shirt rolled all the way up to my shoulders. I was aware of how long and skinny my arms must look to her. I know they looked that way to me. I felt pretty strange beside her, actually. Uncomfortable but excited. She was different from the other girls I knew, from Denise or Cheryl on the block or even the girls at school. For one thing she was maybe a hundred times prettier. As far as I was concerned she was prettier than Natalie Wood. Probably she was smarter than the girls I knew too, more sophisticated. She lived in New York City after all and had eaten lobsters. And she moved just like a boy. She had this strong hard body and easy grace about her. All that made me nervous and I missed the first one. Not an enormous crayfish but bigger than what we had. It scudded backward beneath the Rock. She asked if she could try. I gave her the”
“can. “New York City, huh?” “Yup.” She rolled up her sleeves and dipped down into the water. And that was when I noticed the scar. “Jeez. What’s that?” It started just inside her left elbow and ran down to the wrist like a long pink twisted worm. She saw where I was looking. “Accident,” she said. “We were in a car.” Then she looked back into the water where you could see her reflection shimmering. “Jeez.” But then she didn’t seem to want to talk much after that. “Got any more of ’em?” I don’t know why scars are always so fascinating to boys, but they are, it’s a fact of life, and I just couldn’t help it. I couldn’t shut up about it yet. Even though I knew she wanted me to, even though”
“It was a time when even the guilty displayed a rare innocence. In”
“I see Donny turning to throw the words over his shoulder on his way across the lawn to the porch. Casually, but with an odd sort of sincerity about him, as though this were absolute gospel. “My mom says Meg’s the lucky one,” he said. “My mom says she got off easy.”
“Alfred was right about one ting. Ye are very beautiful when ye beg, Genevieve.
Soon, ye will never need ta beg me for anyting. I’ll give ye everything.”
“Pick,” Emma tells her.
Tira’s lip trembles. She tries to back out of sight, but someone pushes her forward. “Pick…Pick what?”
Emma motions to the halo of predators above them, around them, everywhere. “Pick two. Any two you want, and I will have them divide Jagen’s body evenly.”
“No!” Jagen screams, his face contorted in terror.
Emma cocks her head at him. “Jagen, make up your mind. Didn’t you just say you don’t believe I have the Gift? So then why should you care if she points to some harmless sharks?”
He clamps his mouth shut, but the look of panic stays.
Tira says, “I couldn’t do that, Highness.”
Highness! Someone called Emma “Highness!” It’s one of the many names she calls Galen when she’s mad at him. The irony is not lost on Emma. Her death glare cuts off his snickers.
She turns back to Tira. “Of course you can. There’s nothing to worry about because Paca has the Gift, remember? Isn’t that what you all believe? She would never let any harm come to her own father, would she? I know I wouldn’t. So go ahead and pick. Paca will save Jagen.”
Clever little angelfish. Galen smirks at Jagen, who won’t meet his eyes. Nalia and Grom make their way to the edge of the center. Grom grins at Emma like she’s his own daughter. Which is very weird for Galen.”
“Didn't Chains tell you about the Golden Theological Principle?"
"The single congruent aspect of every known religion. The one shared, universal assumption about the human condition."
"What is it?"
"He said that life boils down to standing in line to get shit dropped on your head. Everyone's got a place in the queue, you can't get out of it, and just when you start to congratulate yourself on surviving your dose of shit, you discover that line is actually circular.”
“Heroes. Brave men and women who lay down their lives for someone else... Our culture understands heroism. But we don’t understand martyrs.”
“What do you mean, “Not to worry, she's home safe with Skiboy”?
What the hell is a "Skiboy"?”
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